The session was a combination of fun and work for the participants. It started with a romantic ambience of music and clapping of hands by the participants. Keith and Laura enacted as Romeo and Juliet representing grant and loan project each. Romeo proposed to Juliet: ‘You are a fascinating loan project, we can work together’. Juliet responded with equally charming voice: ‘I have too have something to offer to you, I can scale up your innovations’.
The session proceeded with the broader appreciation of the Romeos (represented by all the Grant Projects) and Juliets (Loan Projects) in the context of IFAD.
The session was divided into three parts:
Speed Dating 30 minutes
Relationship Building 40 minutes
Professional Counselling 20 minutes
1. Speed Dating -- The session was broken into two groups of participants to facilitate ‘speed dating’:
- Juliets: Loan projects (LPs) -- in country groups)
- Romeos: Grant programmes (GPs)
Numerous proposals and responses were received. As an example, the Nepal Juliet (Loan Projects) demanded from Romeo “We need technical support for research activities, capacity building of staff and local communities, and clarity for actions on emerging issues such as climate change, gender, increase food prices and so on”.ICIMOD as Romeo (Grant Project) responded saying ”We can provide you peer learning and piloting including exposure visits and experience sharing provisions in thematic areas that you have just mentioned”.
2. Relationship Building -- The participants were again divided into 2 groups: LPs (in country groups) and GPs. They were asked to write in the cards on opportunities and challenges for improving relationships between grants projects and loan projects. The questions asked to address were:Challenges: “What makes me unsure about your offers” (concerns, challenges, can you really do this? -- either reacting to the offers or from past experiences with LP/GP interactions)
Possible Solutions: “How can we work to overcome challenges and build a happy relationship"
At the same time the CPMs and CPOs worked as “Cupids” facilitating each group/table while the participants deliberated on the theme.
One example of a challenge identified by participants was inadequate communicate (dissemination) of information on grants to loan projects. A possible solution suggested was the participation or involvement of grants projects in country portfolio reviews.
3. Professional Counselling: A panel of invited “Cupids” including CPOs and CPMs from Nepal, Vietnam and Bangladesh as ENRAP's coordinator, Shalini Kala of IDRC, expressed their experiences and opinions on the following question:
"How can direct supervision improve linkages between investment projects and grant programmes? How will this result in more effective country programmes?"
Tung, a talented and romantic Cupid, wondered "Why we know each other only after marriage?" suggesting to the group that we need start by dating and building relationships before getting married.